Sunday, February 3, 2013

History of Bolivia

Early History
The altiplano was a center of native life even before the days of the Inca; the region was the home of the great Tihuanaco empire. The Aymara had been absorbed into the Inca empire long before Gonzalo Pizarro and Hernando Pizarro began the Spanish conquest of the Inca in 1532. In 1538 the indigenous inhabitants in Bolivia were defeated.
Uninviting though the high, cold country was, it attracted the Spanish because of its rich silver mines, discovered as early as 1545. Exploiters poured in, bent on quick wealth. Forcing the natives to work the mines and the obrajes [textile mills] under duress, they remained indifferent to all development other than the construction of transportation facilities to remove the unearthed riches. Native laborers were also used on great landholdings. Thus began the system of plunder economy and social inequality that persisted in Bolivia until recent years. Economic development was further retarded by the rugged terrain, and conditions did not change when the region was made (1559) into the audiencia of Charcas, which was attached until 1776 to the viceroyalty of Peru and later to the viceroyalty of La Plata.
dependence and the Nineteenth Century

The revolution against Spanish control came early, with an uprising in Chuquisaca in 1809, but Bolivia remained Spanish until the campaigns of José de San Martín and Simón Bolívar. Independence was won with the victory (1824) at Ayacucho of Antonio José de Sucre. After the formal proclamation of independence in 1825, Bolívar drew up (1826) a constitution for the new republic. The nation was named Bolivia, and Chuquisaca was renamed Sucre, after the revolutionary hero.
Bolivia inherited ambitions and extensive territorial claims that proved disastrous, leading to warfare and defeat. At the time of independence it had a seacoast, a portion of the Amazon basin, and claims to most of the Chaco; in little more than a century all these were lost. The strife-ridden internal history of Bolivia began when the first president, Sucre, was forced to resign in 1828. A steady stream of egocentric caudillos plagued Bolivia thereafter. Andrés Santa Cruz, desiring to reunite Bolivia and Peru, invaded Peru in 1836 and established a confederation, which three years later was destroyed on the battlefield of Yungay.
Although a few presidents, notably José Ballivián, made efforts to reform the administration and improve the economy, the temptation to wholesale corruption was always strong, and honest reform was hard to achieve. The nitrate deposits of Atacama proved valuable, but the mining concessions were given to Chileans. Trouble over them led (1879), during the administration of Hilarión Daza, to the War of the Pacific (see Pacific, War of the). As a result Bolivia lost Atacama to Chile. The next serious loss was the little-known region of the Acre River, which had become valuable because of its wild rubber. After a bitter conflict, Bolivia, under President José Manuel Pando, yielded the area to Brazil in 1903 for an indemnity